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7 Things to Look for When Buying an RV Fixer Upper

7 Things to Look for When Buying an RV Fixer Upper

Renovating RVs is a huge trend right now, with people upgrading RVs for their own use or flipping them for resale. Whether you’re renovating an RV to enjoy as a mobile getaway for yourself, or it’s a side business to generate some extra spending money, you want to make sure that you buy the used RV that’s right for you. Here are seven things to look for when buying an RV fixer upper.

1. A Fair Price

When considering a fair price for a fixer upper RV, keep in mind all the tools, materials, and time that will go into the repairs and upgrades. After buying the RV, you still need to have leftover budget to actually do the renovation! Luckily, you can search online marketplaces like to get an idea of the prices for which similar units are being sold.

2. A Clear Title

You’ll always get a title when buying from a dealer, but some private sellers may not have a title for a used RV, especially if it’s a fixer upper that’s particularly old, damaged, or even inoperable. RVs like these can often tempt renovators with cheap prices, but we strongly recommend you stay away from RVs without a clear title. Some states have processes to let you claim a title-less RV, but it can be complicated and is not guaranteed to work. Stick to buying from sellers who have a clear title.

3. An In-Person Inspection

When shopping on RV Trader, listings will have plenty of photos and videos of the for-sale listing. If you’re buying a new unit, or even a road-ready used RV, that visual evidence may give you all the confidence you need to buy the RV. However, if you’re buying a fixer upper that is going to need some work to give it new life, you really need to inspect the RV in-person. Before buying a fixer upper RV, you need to evaluate the issues you think you can fix or upgrade, the repairs and replacements that are too big to be worth the investment, and the potential hidden problems that could unexpectedly derail a renovation. To get that level of detail, especially to find those hidden issues, you really need the opportunity to inspect the RV in-person.

Pro Tip: If you may be unavailable to inspect an RV, or don’t feel qualified to evaluate a rig yourself, look for listings on that are marked with an inspection badge. These are units that are part of RV Trader Assurance, powered by Lemon Squad, which have already been inspected by an RV professional. On these listings, you can easily request the inspection report, which will include a comprehensive examination of the internal and external structure, complete mechanical inspection, road test, appliance inspection, and over 40 high-quality photos.

4. Water Damage

Water damage is one key issue to look for while inspecting a used RV, which can damage everything from cabinets and furnishings to the ceiling, walls, and floor. Rot, rust, and mold may not be immediately apparent, but can be expensive and time-consuming to remove and repair, so keep a critical eye out for spots, discoloration, bubbles in paneling, unpleasant smells, and other signs of water damage.

5. Good Bones

As someone looking to renovate a used RV, you’re likely prepared to clean up its appearance and basic functionality with new paint, furnishings, appliances, and even tires. Maybe you have the skills needed to make engine, electric, and plumbing repairs. But are you ready to replace the RV frame, ceiling, walls, floors, axles, and so on? The fine line between fixer upper and lost cause is often the condition of the most basic components of the vehicle. At a minimum when inspecting the RV, you need to make sure that the unit has good bones that provide a strong foundation to begin your renovation project.

6. How to Contact the Seller

In most markets, there are more interested buyers than there are RVs for-sale, which means that sellers are receiving multiple inquiries every day and will likely sell the unit very quickly. If you find the perfect fixer upper, you need to know how to immediately contact them so you can stop by to inspect the used RV and maybe even write them a check that very day. Review the listing to find the seller’s contact information, including their phone number, address, email, and/or available hours.

7. Transportation Options

If you purchase an RV, do you know how to get it back to your driveway? If the fixer upper isn’t road-worthy, you’ll need to find a way to haul it or hire an auto delivery service. If the used RV can be safely driven, you’ll need to get your personal vehicle back home, either by having a friend drive it or hauling it behind the RV. You can also ask the seller if they provide delivery service that will bring the RV right to you.

Conclusion: If you’re hopping onto the RV renovation trend, there are some key things to look for when shopping for fixer upper RVs. For similar advice, review the RV Renovations resource page, which offers a series of detailed articles, checklists, and videos. And if you’re ready to start shopping for a used RV, check out the nationwide inventory available on


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Ethan Smith
Ethan Smith
is the Content Manager at Trader Interactive, managing marketing content development for ATV Trader, Commercial Truck Trader, Cycle Trader, Equipment Trader, RV Trader, and more. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to marketplace buyers and sellers.

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